TRANSaction Part 2, following last year’s TRANSaction program, was recently held to increase awareness of transgender issues on campus.
The event was on April 24 in Lecture Center 100, and was filled with students and faculty, some who became emotional about the equality issues and common stigmas about the transgender community.
The event was conceptualized by Stephanie Abrams and the LeFevre Hall staff and presented for the first time last year, Brendan Wright, Residence Hall Student Association national communications coordinator, said.
Last November, SUNY New Paltz won the Program of the Year Award for TRANSaction at the North Eastern Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls Regional Conference, Wright said.
This year, several speakers were invited from the campus and community including students and others such as Pauline Park, an advocate for transgender rights in New York. Continuing their efforts for equality, the program gave attendees a survey about transgender issues both before and after the event. LeFevre staff even sold TRANSaction shirts to promote the event and the topic.
Karl Bryant, assistant professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies and sociology, presented a “Trans 101” slideshow at the event.
He noted that the belief that there are only two options, male and female, is not accurate.
“It’s not true. It’s not supported by empirical evidence,” Bryant said at the event. “This doesn’t naturally occur. It’s a belief system, it’s not a description of the real world.”
He also outlined the problems transgender individuals face on a daily basis that “normal” people do not even think about. The fact that they need to be separated into a different category other than “normal” is one of them, he said.
Bathroom accessibility and applications where one must either pick “male” or “female” are two other examples Bryant highlighted. Trans people are punished, disadvantaged and considered inferior for stepping outside of the system and are thought to require some explanation for why they are the way they are, he said.
“Strangers don’t ask [straight people] what your genitals look like or how you have sex,” Bryant said.
Another speaker, Mickey, known at her work as Mike, wore a professional black business suit and had long gray-black curly hair, but was “physically” a man. She said sometimes she is male, sometimes she is female, depending on her mood.
“You’ll have to remember, I’m a Virgo, I’ll have to do my best to live up to that,” Mickey said. “I am a dual gender person and I enjoy both. I’ve learned to accept it and enjoy it.”
Mickey was born male, is married to a “loving and supportive wife” and noted that her transformation occurred in stages.
“As time went on, I learned that my mother had some pretty wonderful clothes that happened to fit me well,” she joked. “They used to think people like me were nuts. Maybe they were right, but any psychologist will tell you … there is no such thing as normal.”
Students then discussed local problems for transgender students, including campus bathroom accessibility, lack of gender-neutral housing, inaccuracy of formal records stating gender and overall segregation in the campus based on sex.
“Starting in SUNY New Paltz, we’re advocating for transgender acceptance and equality. In doing this, we hope to shed light and educate the community on a topic that has been more or less kept in the dark,” the TRANSaction Facebook page said. “The LGBTQ community is thriving and we want to show it, especially in regards to those under the trans umbrella. We should be so open to any person, and any individual. We all are a part of this world; a part of this Earth.”